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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The cat’s meow

    Joey Fisher / The Daily Wildcat
    The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter strives to send homeless cats to loving homes. They provide shelter to cats who are FIV+, require special diets, have diabetes, and other diseases.

    According to myth, every cat has nine lives — but abandoned cats don’t always get a second chance. One Tucson shelter is making sure homeless cats can enjoy all of their lives to the fullest.
    The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter is a local nonprofit institute that provides sanctuary and medical attention for homeless cats. It is the one of the many shelters in Tucson that has a “no-kill” policy.

    This 48-year-old shelter serves as an in-house adoption agency and a long-term home for more than 200 cats. The facility features a 8,000 square foot “roam-free” living area, more than 300 volunteers, a staff of nurses, a leukemia ward and a FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) ward. It’s even planning to open a thrift store next month to bring in more funds.

    For now, Hermitage thrives on the generosity of others. All of its food, supplies, beds and toys are donations from the community.
    Lee Bucyk, the executive assistant at Hermitage, started working at the shelter eight months ago. She said there are about 70-100 adoptions every month.

    “Knowing that they are not roaming outside somewhere and that they’re sheltered is the most beneficial part of working here,” Bucyk said.

    Hermitage’s mission is to ensure a loving home for every cat, whether through adoption or continued stay at the shelter itself.
    “It is very fulfilling,” Bucyk said. “Seeing the animals get adopted and knowing that they are being loved every day from the people that work here is very rewarding.”

    About 100 of the shelter’s volunteers serve on a regular basis, said Carolin Atchison, the volunteer coordinator. “Volunteers are a really critical component to keeping all our kitties happy and healthy,” she said. “Happy, healthy cats make much more adoptable cats.”
    Atchison said that volunteers help with everything, including the maintenance of the shelter, scooping the litter boxes, doing the dishes and the laundry on a daily basis. But the main benefit of having the volunteers there is their socialization with the cats.

    “We have some cats that have been through really traumatic circumstances,” Atchison said. “They are very shy when they get here, which makes them harder to adopt.”

    Hermitage provides socialization classes where volunteers learn how to help shy cats become more social by working with two or three cats at a time. They foster a relationship by playing with cats, stroking them and spending time with them.

    “Over time, they become way more social and break out of their shell,” Atchison said. “They really learn to trust humans again.”
    There are many success stories of cats from distressing homes that come to the shelter and end up being adopted by loving families, she added.

    Each volunteer shows their dedication to the cats in their own way. Atchison said a particular volunteer helps groom the cats by bringing her own dry shampoo, while volunteers with medical backgrounds spend time with the leukemia and FIV cats.

    “We have a lot of volunteers with handy backgrounds,” Atchison said, “so they just come by and help out with whatever they can.”

    Volunteers not only aid the cats, but also help with maintenance around the shelter. The painting, landscaping, construction, medical attention and cleaning is all done by volunteers.
    “This morning I swept off the patio to make a nicer entrance for our guests,” said volunteer Jan Moser.

    Moser started volunteering at the shelter recently, shortly after she retired. She also takes a medical class to learn more about feline health, and said she wants to get more hands-on experience.

    She hopes to see more shelters take on the no-killing practice.
    Moser often helps with the thrift store that the shelter is planning to open February 8. Profits from the Hermitage Thrift Store & More will go toward the shelter’s expenses. She said it’s a perfect fit for her, because her two favorite things are garage sales and cats.

    Shelter staff need help sorting through clothing and other household items, so the shelter is hosting “All-Hands-On-Deck” volunteer event this Saturday at the thrift shop location.
    Whether cleaning the shelves or painting paw prints on the walls, volunteers are there to save the day.

    “We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” Atchison said. “It’s great to see all this love and caring for cats in the community.”

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